Although tenkara does not use a heavy fly line the angler must move the line with sufficient stroke length, power and pause of the rod to produce a tight loop while canting the cast forward and toward the water. I suggest that the tenkara cast following the principles laid down by Bill and Jay Gammel in their seminal book The Essentials of Fly Casting:
|The Tenkara Cast|
When starting out try to relax your shoulder, keep your upper arm down rather than held forward. Grip the rod handle with your index finger pointing forward, not too firm, just right as they say. Allow a slight lift of the upper arm, followed by the forearm and finish with a slight cant of the wrist while you pause momentarily on the back stroke. Then bring the rod forward through both horizontal and vertical translation with a final cant forward to deliver your cast and present your fly on target. As your casting develops you can begin to explore the nuances of grip and how they affect the cast.
|The Tenkara Cast - Philip Sheridan|
Pay attention to the alignment of your hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder, to develop accurate repeatable straight casts. Once you can cast tight loops in a straight line you can begin to play with the loop size and its orientation to present the fly as you wish. Work on your fly first presentation with just the fly and tippet landing on the water. To do so with finesse you'll need to dampen or soften the cast with a slight lift of rod tip as the line extends. Watch the short film below carefully to see how Masami Sakakibara controls his casts.
Masami Sakakibara known as Tenkara no Oni, has practised his cast over and over to perfection for many years. The image below, by kind permission of Masami Sakakibara, shows him having his cast analysed in a laboratory.
|Image by kind permission Masami Sakakibara|
Remember to practise the cast from various stances too. Try kneeling, from a crouch, or sat on the ground to develop the flexibility of mind and body to cast from any angle and location. Use your non-dominant hand too, it won't take long before you become adept with both. With some deliberate and dedicated work on your cast you will open up a whole range of fishing opportunities that you may have passed up had you not practised these skills.
|Image by kind persmission Masami Sakakibara|
In time we reach a point beyond competency where we find ourselves at the start of the journey toward mastery. Another master fly caster, Joan Wulff, oft quoted from her book, Fly Casting Techniques, said:
"If you don't know where the fish lie but can cast well enough to cover all of the water with finesse, you are likely to solve the mystery and catch fish. If you know where they lie but can neither reach them nor present the fly naturally, you are not even in the game."Get in touch if you'd like some focused tuition on the tenkara cast.
I look forward to seeing you on the river.
Tight lines and happy tenkara.